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"Strivers vs Skivers" - what do you think?

(494 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 18-Jan-13 09:57:40

Hello all

Prompted by a blog post this week from MN Blogger Sonya Cisco, and this opinion piece by BlogFest panellist Zoe Williams, for our first blog-prompt of the New Year we thought we'd ask for your thoughts on the current debate around benefits cuts.

According to both Sonya and Zoe, politicians have deliberately encouraged us to think of people as either 'skivers' or 'strivers' in order to pit people on low incomes against one another -  and to divert attention from the fact that the economy simply can't provide enough jobs.  

Do you agree with them? And if not - why not?  Post your URLs here if you blog - or, if you haven't got a blog (why not? wink) do tell us what you think here on the thread.

JakeBullet Sat 19-Jan-13 08:56:17

God this gets worse.... Smiff comes along with another load of bollocks. So Smiff worked in a disability advice centre... .and its all a load of rubbish with dubious claims Personally speaking I think Smiff is talking a load of rubbish and lying through her teeth about her "experience" but in case she isnt.....

My friend gets DLA and ESA for a depressive anxisty disorder which makes her agoraphobic. ....thats a nice woolly one isnt it.
If Smiff was to see my friend occasionally she would see a woman drinking coffee in Starbucks with me, what a skiver eh?
Obviously what Smiff would NOT see are the more frequent days when she is NOT drinking coffee in Starbucks but is a shivering suicidal mess sitting indoors. On those occasions its me ss her friend making her coffee and talking to the crisis team. Smiff also would not know that as a child of between ages 8 -13 my friend was being systematically raped by her stepfather......and others! Believe me rape does not (and did not) just happen vaginally. I apologise if this is triggering for anyone but people like Smiff are so thick you HAVE to spell it out.
Is she or anyone in her position disabled enough for you now tell?

pumpkinsweetieMasPudding Sat 19-Jan-13 09:15:26

Zavvi, are you Maggie Thatchers double?
MrsDevere, love your earlier postgrin

All those with this notion, that people CHOOSE not to work-How is that possible when the current rules don't allow those that quit or that are sacked to recieve JSA or IS?

Where are these high paid jobs that allow for a lifetime savings?
In my area nearly all jobs semi or unskilled are mw or just above.
Would like to know how my dh could have possibly saved before he was made redundant?
My dh has been out of work for 4 months now, should my dc starve because some people say so?

Carers allowance helped my mother look after my teenage bro who was dying of cancer. If it wasn't for carers allowance she would have lost her home and my bro would have suffered even more than he already had.

DLA helps people with disabilities have a better quality of life and helps them with bills, food etc.
Where would they be without it?
There are lots of genuine claiments that probably aren't sleeping for worrying about the changes.

I just hope that none of you lucky ones never have the shoe on the other foot, because you would get your eyes wiped to the true reality of being on benefits.

DrRanj Sat 19-Jan-13 09:18:09

Did you never claim child benefit then zavi?

If you had a disabled child and had to give up work or list you job would you not claim any benefits because if everyone else in the country did it wouldn't work?

Iggly Sat 19-Jan-13 09:21:14

I suppose my general philosophy is that those who have contributed to the common pot should be helped most by that pot when they fall on hard times

What a simplistic argument.

Children are not taxpayers. Some people who are severely disabled and unable to work are not. Some people do not earn enough to pay that much tax. We can't all be high flying accountants/lawyers earning shit loads.

Strivers vs shirkers is such a simple argument which superficially seems to illustrate the problems but it is black and white.

Anyone with life experience knows that that is not how real life works.

My mum left me and my brother when I was aged 11. We were taken into care.

I, being only 11, had not yet "contributed to the pot". So, does that mean that I should have been left to wither and die? Thank fuck this was under labour so I ended up being supported and got into university. Am now a higher rate taxpayer (seeing as that's the only thing that matters to people like Zavi).

I hate the divide and rule politics. It's disgusting. The Tories should remember that they are talking about people, real people FFS

MrsDeVere Sat 19-Jan-13 09:27:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

leniwhite Sat 19-Jan-13 09:36:18

I too feel very strongly that anyone judging depression and anxiety or eczema all as minor quibbles is exactly the sort of person who reads the Daily Mail and swallows this ridiculous and damaging 'skivers' rhetoric. I've worked with people who were injected with heroin at ten years old by their own parents and raped and beaten for years, people who had similar treatment from a sibling who was never punished because the family wanted to make their own lives easier... Funnily enough the 'depression and anxiety' these people experience causes them lifelong problems because our current system isn't set up to offer them the specialist treatment they need.

This whole 'if everyone did what I do would it be ok?' test Zavi proposes - if we were all in the same circumstances then fine, but if we were all like Zavi then the Daily Mail would be running government confusedsuch polarised and simplistic ideals are the very reason we have a society of rich vs poor.

Just as an example - DM writes about the Savile abuse - they use the terms 'victim' and 'monster'. But they simultaneously refer to these so-called 'skivers', who may have suffered not just one instance of abuse by a celebrity, but years and years of sustained abuse from family members.

I'd have more reason than most to vilify those apparent 'skivers' because my house was burned down by rioters in 2011 whilst I was inside, but I make it my business to try and inform myself of all sides before judging people willy nilly.

Of course everyone is entitled to an opinion, it's just a shame people don't base them on the facts rather than what they read in the papers or have gone through in their one much more comfortable life.

CatAndFiddle Sat 19-Jan-13 09:48:54

I can't believe that so many of us fail to see what is really going on here. Multi-national corporations paying little or no tax, the political class living the high life on the public purse, global financial institutions rigging the system to ensure obscene profit for the precious few, the world's 100 richest people earning enough in one year to end extreme poverty across the globe four times over....and what are the masses doing whilst all this goes on?? Arguing amongst themselves about who deserves what of the relative pittance we are thrown to placate us, while all this massive injustice and corruption rages on around us.

We should all take care of each other. That should be in our nature. I don't receive benefits, but I don't begrudge those that do. There but for the grace of God go I. I also can't stand this mentality of "I buy your knickers/pay for your Sky TV". We live in a civilised society that attempts to take care of the less fortunate, and everyone makes a contribution to allow this to happen. Surely that is something to be proud of? That we care about each other? That we wouldn't want to see someone else homeless/starving/freezing, just so we could pay less tax....or worse, feel smug that "everyone is getting what they deserve"?

This is all so depressing and makes me feel so sad. sad

StormyBrid Sat 19-Jan-13 10:57:31

Dividing us all into "strivers" and "skivers" is an attempt to paint some of us as inherently more valuable than others. Valuable to whom? The state? Strivers are good little economic units, industriously creating wealth for the state. Skivers is a catch-all term encompassing everyone who, for whatever reason, is currently unable to do so. Setting the two in such opposition means we're all so busy arguing amongst ourselves that we have no time to stop and consider whether it's right to judge our individual worth based on how much money we can produce for the state.

Poverty benefits none of us. Those of you with jobs, would you prefer the unemployed to have shelter and food, or would you prefer the unemployed to be forced to resort to crime to feed themselves? Which is going to make your life easier, in the long run? It's nothing to do with who's more worthy of assistance, and everything to do with basic human decency. Society gains when standards of living are improved across the board. Taking away the only legal means many people have of supporting themselves and their families isn't just cruel. It's an outrage, and no civilised society would be willing to do it.

And just for the record, I'm currently feeling far less inclined to seek work and pay tax than I did five years ago, because I have no desire to pay into a system that's being dismantled as we speak. I have no faith that any taxes I may pay will be used for the good of the people of this country. Zavi's taxes don't buy my knickers. They're used to pay private companies to deny disability, undermine the minimum wage, and reduce the chances of the unemployed ever finding work. Why on earth would I want to become a good little economic unit in a system like that?

pumpkinsweetieMasPudding Sat 19-Jan-13 11:14:54

Good point stormy-No legal means of feeding/clothing =crime.
I for one would steal to feed my children if i had to.
Is this the way this country is heading under the conservatives?
Having to steal & living on the streets-maybe seeing children living on the streets would change some peoples minds.
I for one would never want our country heading that way.

NC78 Sat 19-Jan-13 11:17:57

"I used to work in a disability benefits centre, which processed an average 250,000 claims every year. The vast majority were dubious, and included "disabilities" such as eczema, depression and anxiety.

Anyone who thinks the benefit system isn't the subject of a huge abuse by the UK public is deluded.

Swap giros for food vouchers and you would see an instant drop in claims. "

This post is highly offensive. sad

Shame that it this day and age peple still feel MH problems are trivial at best and fake at worst.

I had a friend who claimed disability benefits due to eczema and the resulting depression.

He was covered from head to toe. In the morning his sheets would be covered in blood and skin. His sleep was disrupted every night and, as his condition was chronic, this meant he was suffering the psychological effects of constant sleep deprivation. He had to take drugs to supress his immune system with all the side effects that entails - yet he still had severe eczema. This all lead to severe debilitating depression.

JakeBullet Sat 19-Jan-13 11:28:27

That post was indeed very offensive...I notice the cretin who posted it has not been back to update us with more pearls of wisdom....or to respond to what others have posted. Says it all really.

AmberLeaf Sat 19-Jan-13 11:29:23

Wonders of smiffy is aware of the fraud rates for disability benefits?

weegiemum Sat 19-Jan-13 12:07:11

I'm probably a skiver. I get dla due to a rather unpleasant neuro disability, git nothing else as dh earns too much.

But I administer, run and teach a young mums literacy ptoject. Isn't that the "big society", Dave? But cos I do it for free, it doesn't count??

They'd like to take my DLA away. And thren I can't afford a taxi, so I can't do my job. Doesn't make sense!!

MrsDeVere Sat 19-Jan-13 12:57:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sunnywithshowers Sat 19-Jan-13 13:34:47

smiffy are you aware that giros were phased out years ago?

I agree with posts like MrsdeVere above. You could say I'm a striver - I've worked almost continuously for over 20 years. My DH has been unemployed for several years - through MS - for which he receives DLA. Because I've been working he doesn't receive any other benefits. Before his unemployment he was in a highly skilled senior role and paid lots of taxes - he paid more in taxes than I earned some years.

We've recently started as mature university students (skivers?) - DH is retraining so he's more employable. If all else fails I can go back to my previous occupation, which is unrewarding but pays decently.

But we're both aware that MS is a progressive condition, so he may not have a lot of 'working' years left. At which point I'll be his carer and save the government loads of money and receive a pittance in return. And I'll be called a skiver too.

I reject utterly the skiver / striver rhetoric. It's a way of getting people fighting amongst themselves instead of being angry at the way in which governments (deliberate plural there) have fucked things up and are dismantling the welfare state and the NHS under our noses.

Those of you above who think that people who claim benefits are not like you - you're mostly wrong. This country is in deep trouble with huge unemployment. You could lose your job or your health in a moment and be in need of the safety net.

Jux Sat 19-Jan-13 13:52:30

Apparently I'm a skiver. I worked for most of my adult life - 3 years of from 8am to midnight as a basic shift, and 6 days out of 7, nearly had a breakdown - most jobs I have done were long hours and I worked incredibly hard.

When I became pg with dd, ms developed along with the foetus, leaving me incapable of doing almost antyhing. My condition is improving very slowly, though I will never be well again. I get DLA.

I am trying to get a new qualification from the OU so that I can just do office work which won't tax me physically too badly. Until then I will be dependent upon DLA. I am apparently entitled to other benefits (or was) but I didn't claim them as I feel bad enough about getting the DLA.

I think, looking at my struggles now and my aspirations, that I am actually a striver, though my dependence on a benefit makes me a skiver.

It is divide and rule all over again, and a particularly pernicious form.

I also never felt that the money I paid in tax when I was working was mine. It belonged to the State to do things which needed doing. That included helping those who were less fortunate than I was, unable to work at all, or unable to find work.

Tax money doesn't belong to you. It belongs to the State. It is not your money, it never was. That's the worst of the message that DC is giving out.

VestaCurry Sat 19-Jan-13 16:02:35

'BRING ON THE CHANGES' you say Zavi.

It's very dangerous to have that kind of blind faith in a Government's proposals. It tends to be of the right wing variety and unfettered, we all know where it can lead in terms of attitudes to the disabled and sick. Germany in the 1930's springs to mind. And, the economic conditions are not dissimilar.

charitymum Sat 19-Jan-13 16:31:46

The language is there to divide and rule. Like the equally insidious taxpayers v disabled (because nobody with a disability has ever paid tax)

Where the language may be useful is in exploring the truth that there are some people happy to live off others and take little personal responsibility at every level and in every part of society. Skiving-self first and stuff everybody else is not class specific.

From the multi million pound bankers avoiding taxes to parents who can afford it laughing that they pay nothing for school trips because "why should they" - leaving others to pay more - to the private landlord raking it in while his tenants live in the damp.

To say all bankers/wealthy mum/landlord are skivers because they live off others is as crass as saying all those who take benefits are. There are those who take the piss and look after themselves - screw the rest- and those that see the greater good.

But on benefits I'm clear. I am a higher rate tax payer. I work my arse off and juggle care for four kids. And I don't begrudge a penny to those on benefits-even those taking the piss- because one child going hungry or being homeless in modern day Britain is a fucking disgrace. Accepting some fraud (less than .5% of benefits bill btw and some billions less than unpaid and avoided taxes) is small price to pay to ensure no kids fall through net.

ParsingFancy Sat 19-Jan-13 16:35:17

So where do Ladies Who Lunch fit into this dual universe?

They're clearly not strivers.

So they must be skivers.

Or does this "moral virtue = paid work" notion only apply to the poor?

tethersend Sat 19-Jan-13 16:44:45

Some disjointed thoughts:

1. The amount of money in unclaimed benefits is greater than the amount the government estimates is lost to benefit fraud. This suggests, contrary to popular belief, we are a nation who doesn't claim what we're entitled to. A sense of disentitlement, perhaps?

2. Are HMV/Jessops/Blockbuster employees still strivers or are have they been skivers all along? I think we should be told.

3. It's far cheaper for a government to pay 'feckless' parents a small amount of child benefit to care for their children than it is to take them into care. What will happen to the children of the 'feckless' who continue to have children past the benefit limit and refuse to/are unable to pay for them?

4. If you're on Workfare, are you a Skiver or a Striver? Or neither? Or both?

FanFuckingTastic Sat 19-Jan-13 19:43:29

I know two people with eczema that is bad enough to claim for.

One is a little girl, her skin cracks and bleeds all over her hands, arms, legs and she gets it through her hair. Her mum has to wet wrap her every night. The creams get everywhere and stain. She needs to replace clothing, bedding, even carpets on a regular basis. He daughter needs special clothes and washing products, she finds it difficult to sleep through the night due to the itching, which means that she gets tired very easily. Her mum often has to carry her home from school. As with eczema like this she has allergies too, which mean she needs to be fed a special diet. You're saying that wouldn't qualify for DLA to improve a little girl's life?

The other is my best friend's husband, who works six days in seven, seven if they'll give him overtime. He has really bad eczema again to the point of raw skin. He has to get all sorts of medication for it, but he pays for prescriptions. They have to find out the trigger, which can involve messing about with washing powders and cleaning products, he has to be wet wrapped also, but his wife has cerebral palsy and can't always manage to help him, so instead he suffers. It disturbs his sleep, his confidence is nothing, he gets infections in the wounds. But it's just eczema right? No need for DLA?

As for depression and anxiety, I am sorry but that is disabil-ist and shows pure ignorance. Are we saying that these illnesses are somehow less valid that others because they are mental illnesses? Can't you understand that for all the sufferers there are actually people so badly affected by mental illness that it rules their life and makes it very difficult to live. Do you include autism in your attitude of stupid claims? What about ADHD or PTSD? Are any mental differences or disorders worthy of claiming?

No wonder getting DLA is so fucking difficult with pure ignorance like that from people who work there/have worked there.

pumpkinsweetieMasPudding Sat 19-Jan-13 20:18:44

I wonder where zavvi wentgrin

ethelb Sat 19-Jan-13 21:38:09

I agree with the notion that the government has promoted v devisive language about benefits recipients since the coalitions inception. The attitude to disabled benefits recipient in particular disgusts me

However, I do wonder what is more damaging. The bastard Tory's attitude to people receiving benefits or the bleeding heart liberal attitude that involves shouting down any (often low working imcome) voice that points out there are people who have chosen living on benefits as a 'lifestyle choice'.

Imo you have to have lived a v priviledged and sheltered life to belive that noone is a) better off on benefits than in work and b) chose to live on benefits.

ethelb Sat 19-Jan-13 21:49:38

@mrsdevre i completely agree on the lack of clarity in the past three months Dp lost his job and was put on jsa = skiver
While i worked full time. = striver
And set up a sucessful business to make up the deficit = striver
While we applied for housing benefit = skiver
But it only paid 1/3 so we had to pay rest if rent = no one is sure
Then by the time benefits were sorted dp got a 7month contract = striver until that runs out
We have no children = selfish / not selfish depending on who you speak to

I agree that the government are doing this so we cannot see what is really going on.

What are they doing to create jobs? If they want more people to work then surely the only logical solution is to sort out the lack of jobs.

Why does "making work pay" involve cutting benefits when 1) benefit rates are already set at "what you need to live on" and 2) work currently only pays for the majority because it is topped up by benefits? Shouldnt "making work pay" be about raising wages in line with inflation and paying a living wage as a minimum?

There are jobs advertised near me for positions that require qualifications which took people years to achieve. The pay? NMW! What message is that sending out? Strive to better yourself but we will still pay you a wage that wont lift you out of poverty.

This government is a disgrace, yet we are blaming the poorest in our society?

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